Prior to the start of this 35th RAAM many fans had their predictions of who would be in contention for the win. While they all had their favorites, few (if any!) choose rookie Pierre Bischoff as a likely winner; least of all Bischoff himself who today at the finish, when asked if he’d come to the US thinking he would win, replied, “To finish? Yes. To win? No. This was a lifetime goal and I wanted to do this race to be an honest person, because many people did not believe that I would really do it. And now I have finished the Race Across America.”
He is also the first German to win solo RAAM, “It is really great to be the first,” he said and with a finish time of 9 days, 17 hours and 9 minutes at an average speed of 13.16 mph, he has broken the German record for RAAM set by Hubert Schwarz in 1992 when he completed RAAM at an average speed 12.26 mph.
While Bischoff’s finish is well off of the record of 16.42 mph held by his friend, 3-time RAAM winner Christoph Strasser (Austria), setting a record was never a goal of the ever-smiling 31-year old. No, this guy was here to finish without pushing himself to a Strasser-pace, and to have as much fun as he could along the way. As the race progressed his enthusiasm and silliness became known to the fans who saw RAAM Media One’s photos and videos of him wearing silly glasses with a false mustache, or images of him riding with a red-white-and-blue pinwheel on his handlebars, or of him wearing a big clown wig and declaring, “I’ll need a haircut before Annapolis!” He also insisted on stopping to visit RAAM Media whenever we caught up with him and though we kept our questions short, it was clear he would rather linger with us and it would take prompting from his crew to get him back on his bike, “C’mon Pierre, this is a bike race,” we heard his crew chief remind him more than once. He visited his new-found fans as well, “There were many times, especially near the end there were many people on the course to see me,” he said this morning here in Annapolis. “They got to know who Bischoff is and the people get interested in Pierre Bischoff and they came out to the course. They were often surprised when I say, ‘hey, let’s do a photo.’ For me it’s quite normal because they invested their time to see me and at minimum I must give that back to them.”
What a great attitude and what a fun guy. Early in the race he declared that this will be his one and only RAAM, that, “It is time to be adult.” I hope that having won changes his feelings and that he will come back. He’s just so fun to have around.